Practical Software Engineering
Advice on Exams
The exams are designed to test your knowledge of the subject, your ability to clearly explain
the subject, and your ability to read and follow instructions. In particular:
- Doing a brain dump of all you know isn't good enough for marks. If you are asked for
n items, write down n items. The instructor is under no obligation to
mark n+m items. If extra items are listed and they are wrong, marks will
normally be deducted.
- If you are asked for explanations or definitions, give explanations or definitions. Not
examples. If you are asked for a list of concepts with explanations or definitions, marks
will not necessarily be given for just the concept name. The instructor is interested in your knowledge
of software engineering, not your ability to memorize lists.
- If you can't think of a term, write down a short phrase describing the term. The instructor
wants to know if you know the subject; forgetting a term is relatively trivial (in most cases).
- You are being marked not only on your knowledge of the subject, but also on how you can express
yourself. You may know the subject, but it doesn't count unless you can convince the
instructor (on paper) that you know it. You will find the same principle holds in both
industry and academia.
- Read and listen to all instructions and follow them! Marks will be deducted
for failing to follow instructions. This includes starting each question at the top of the
page and remaining in your seat for the last 10 minutes of the exam. If you can't follow
simple instructions, you aren't ready for industry or grad school.
- It's usually a good idea to read all the questions before beginning the exam. Answer the
ones you find easiest first, then go on to the harder ones. The order in which you list your answer
questions in the booklet is unimportant.
Following is the standard instructions that normally appear on exams. But please read
the instructions that appear on the actual exam; they may be different.
Explanations (if you need them):
- Use pen only.
- Answer all questions on the answer booklet provided.
- Answer all questions.
- Start each major question (1,2,3...) on a new page (2 marks off per question if you don't)
- Write your name and student ID number on each page.
- Write clearly and neatly; illegible answers will not be considered.
- Keep you answers as brief as possible; marks will be deducted for long-winded answers.
- Use pen only. Since pencil can be easily erased, no appeals can be entertained on exams done in pencil.
Also, pencil smears and can be hard to read. This won't put the instructor in a generous mood.
- Answer all questions on the answer booklet provided. The instructor will not refer to the question
sheet for supplementary material, etc.
- Answer all questions. Simple.
- Start each major question (1,2,3...) on a new page (2 marks off per question if you don't). Marking
large quantities of exams is difficult enough without having to hunt for questions. This is simple
for the student to do. So do it or loose marks for now following instructions.
- Write your name and student ID number on each page. It's possible for the exam booklet to become
separated; this will enable us to reconstitute it.
- Write clearly and neatly; illegible answers will not be considered. If the instructor can't read
it, you can't get any marks (no matter how hard you argue for them later).
- Keep you answers as brief as possible; marks will be deducted for long-winded answers. Just like
in industry, brief, clear explanations are rewarded, for they imply a clear understanding of the
subject matter. Long, opaque explanations are ignored, for they imply deception and lack of understanding.
Every effort is made to mark fairly and accurately.
Exams are marked according to a very specific marking scheme. In the interests of fairness,
no individual exceptions to this scheme are allowed.
The instructor welcomes appeals for the correction of adding mistakes and obvious marking errors.
However, "fishing for marks" is not fair to other students and is strongly discouraged:
Exams are usually marked "generously", but
if a student presents a trivial appeal, the instructor reserves the right to re-mark "to the letter",
and the student is as likely to loose marks as gain marks.
Practical Software Engineering, Department of Computer Science